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Posts from June 2019

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Busting the myths around PR



PR has a problem: a PR problem. Seemingly a result of one of those inexplicable quirks of nature that exist, a sector that trades on its ability to communicate effectively and manage reputations struggles to do exactly that for itself.

This is an issue that the sector has talked about for some time now, and seemingly it isn’t getting any better. Research published in PR Week (we’ll get into the detail of that shortly) confirmed the fact only this week, as almost two thirds of people working in the industry admitted they did not know what PR actually is.

There is no denying that this is a frustration – and that is just on this stat alone, which brings flooding back so many conversations with my Mum as to what I ‘actually do’. The research, conducted by Ginger Comms, shone light on a range of myths and misconceptions that people hold about the sector that so many outstanding communications professionals work in, producing excellent work day in day out.

So, in an attempt to rectify this, I’ve gone through the report findings one by one in attempt to dispel the myths once and for all!

Myth #1: 92% believe PR is primarily used to deceive the public

With high profile political press spokespeople – particularly across the pond – currently in the news a lot it is easy to see where this myth has come from. However, for the vast majority of PR work, this simply isn’t the case.

For me and the fantastic people I work with, PR is primarily used to engage target audiences on subjects they are interested in, and influence their behaviour by providing them with quality, informative content that shapes their professional and personal lives. This takes a range of forms, from creating news stories and research-based whitepapers, through to producing web copy that improves website performance in SEO searches and organising events.

The goal of this is of course to influence people, but fundamentally in our line of work, it is far better to be honest. How we can ‘deceive’ people hasn’t been a discussion point in a single one of the meetings I’ve had here at Refresh PR. ‘Deceiving’ generally never really achieves anything in the end – and it is also something that trade bodies take a very dim view of.

Myth #2: 92% believe that PR professionals ‘bend the truth’

Again, this is simply inaccurate. Not once in my career have I been asked to bend the truth – or proposed doing so. Nor do I believe that anybody I have ever worked with has.

Our time is spent finding ways to effectively communicate to audiences in a way that they find engaging and informative. In the main this means working to identify the target audience, gaining an understanding of them and the content they consume, before devising excellent campaigns. This involves a great deal of creativity, knowledge and skill – with no bending of the truth needed.

Myth #3: 22% believe PR generates ‘fake news'

Thanks for this one Donald! But yeah, see myth #1.

Myth #4: 27% believe that public relations is exactly the same as marketing

PR has always been part of the marketing mix and it is probably fair to say that the line between the two is now more blurred than it ever has been before. However, some very important differences exist.

In short, marketing activities are trying to achieve direct revenue, while PR is trying to drive a positive reputation through an effective communication strategy. But what does this mean in practice?

As an example, while marketing can be very direct and promotional, this doesn’t pass the editorial test. As such, PR has to lead conversations and raise the profile of a business or individual by tapping into their broader expertise and adding value to the news agenda of the day.

Myth #5: 64 per cent believe PR professionals have glamourous, easy jobs

A quick straw poll of the office prompted a unanimous response: if only! Working in PR requires a lot of tenacity, skill and hard work – and the vast majority of it is simply not glamorous.

From starting the day with a frantic review of the news, working tirelessly to get hold of journalists and liaising with clients to establish their objectives, through to attending networking events in the evening and responding to breaking news stories at 9am, everyone in the industry is exceptionally hard working.

You need grit, determination and wit to work in PR; thankfully traits that everyone at Refresh PR has in abundance. And on that note, it’s time for Friday ‘drinks at the desk’.

 

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Is there still a place for press trips in today’s industry?



At Refresh PR, press trips are something that we believe are invaluable as they provide an opportunity to form more personal relationships with the people behind the email address that really influence the audience our clients are targeting.

Yet, despite these positives there is a growing scepticism as to whether they are worth the time and effort they require. Here we have pulled together our top three reasons detailing exactly why we think that the press trip remains as critical as ever.

Relationships

Going the extra mile and adding human interaction into pitching will always pay off. Despite living in a world where the sending an email or a text may seem to suffice, there is nothing better than a face-to-face catch up. This is the same in the media world. Meeting in person puts a face to a name and allows ‘real’ relationships to form.

Press trips provide all parties with the opportunity to form positive relationships, as a PR agency press trips present us with the opportunity to network with the influential people within our clients sectors, and for the press trip attendees they will have a reliable source to turn to when they need content on particular topics.

Cut through

We are in a time where almost every sector will have bloggers and journalists that truly influence the market by telling the world what they think. Making sure that your product or service is on their radar is absolutely the right thing to do.

Journalists can sometimes receive hundreds of press releases every single day, so by making sure your business/your name is memorable to them (which is much easier to do in person than it is via email!) means that you are the one they recognise instantly when your name pops up in their inbox. This ultimately means you’ve increased your chance of getting cut through. This familiarity also means you are likely to be able to pull in favours/be the first port of call when a magazine has a spare bit of space.

Impressing the right people with the right information will always help to provide cut through to the market you are trying to connect with and a write-up from the right person has the potential to create an abundance of opportunities!

Results

Following the press trip our clients will understandably want to see a good return on their investment. We have seen press trips work time and time again, if a client had a good story to tell and a journalist has invested their own time in allowing us to tell that story, then the journalist will inevitably be more interested in relaying it to their readers, listeners or viewers. And as long as that audience is engaged and exactly who our client wanted to target, then it’s a job well done!

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, PR campaign essential, PR event, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Procrastinating? You can now blame the internet



It’s a tale as old as time (or at least as old as 1990); we’ve been warned of the negative impact that the internet has on attention span, memory processes and social interactions. But now, this theory has been backed up by scientists from the University of Manchester, Western Sydney University, Harvard University and Kings College, Oxford University who say that the internet is significantly affecting the brain and potentially, our whole social fabric.

I hold my hands up, the first thing I do in the morning is check Twitter and the last thing I see at night is my Instagram feed but working in PR, surely this is acceptable and can’t have THAT much of an impact? According to the report, I couldn’t be more wrong. The constant stream of prompts the internet so helpfully provides us with means we are now constantly holding a divided attention – which then in turn decreases our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task. This sentiment has been further brought to our attention in the latest series of Black Mirror, with ‘Smithereen’ looking at our almost dependent relationship with tech and social media.

When you take a step back and look at your working practices, when was the last time you sat down and concentrated solely on one task without an email, Whatsapp notification or Facebook comment taking your attention? In fact, in the 12 minutes it has taken me to write these first three paragraphs, I’ve had seven emails, one push notification from ASOS and a text from Dominoes – hardly conducive to a productive working environment.

The report also looks into the limitless amount of information available at our fingertips and how this affects our ability to retain and value facts and knowledge. Similar to when mobile phones first came out and we mocked that maths non-calculator exams would soon be redundant, it seems that having access to more information than ever means we are losing our ability to retain any information whatsoever.

 All is not lost, however. We have been given ways in which we can minimise the potential adverse effects of ‘high-intensity multi-tasking Internet usage’. Professor Jerome Sarris, Deputy Director and Director of Research at NICM Health Research Institute suggests practicing mindfulness and adopting ‘Internet hygiene’ techniques such as reducing online multitasking, ritualistic ‘checking’ behaviours, and evening online activity, while engaging in more in-person interactions.

If the above touched a nerve with you, read this blog post from our account director, Lucy Moore, on deep work and how shutting off from the internet can help you be more productive: http://www.refreshpr.co.uk/blog/post/05/2019/-Deep-work--and-how-it-can-be-effective-for-PR-professionals

Tagged with: Facebook, North West , PR, PR agencies Manchester, PR Agency Manchester, Social Media

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Isn’t it ironic: Amazon heads to the high street



Over the past decade, the UK high street has increasingly looked set to die, killed by a thousand cuts.  Since the collapse of Woolworths in 2008, 32 major retailers have met the same fate as the former icon of British retail.  

Last year alone led to the loss of an estimated 85,000 retail jobs as 1,000 large and small retailers went out of business. Among those that closed their doors for good were the fallen giants of Toys R Us and Maplin while countless others, including M&S, announced a raft of store closures.

The turmoil on the UK’s high streets has been caused by a number of factors ranging from reduced consumer confidence to ever increasing business rates and rents. Then of course it has been plagued by the rise – and rise – of online behemoths that have offered consumers competitive pricing and value-adds such as next day delivery.

An unlikely hero

Very much leading the assault on the high street has been Amazon, the one stop shop for seemingly everything and the pioneer of the Prime service. So, at the risk of quoting Alanis Morrisette, the sense of irony was not lost on us when Amazon opened it’s first bricks and mortar store, right here on our doorstep in Manchester.

Selling everything from food and drink to electronics, beauty products and homewares, and housing a number of Amazon Lockers for customers to collect their online orders, the store is the first of ten that Amazon plans to open across the UK this year. Part of a year-long pilot aimed at providing 100 small independent retailers their first taste of high street retailing, the store openings have been launched in partnership with the small business support organisation Enterprise Nation.

Explaining the decision to join forces with Amazon, Enterprise Nation highlighted that UK consumers like to be able to shop online and in-store, outlining that it hoped that the new stores would “help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail”.

A change in fortunes?

This noble ambition certainly gives pause for thought on the idea that the UK high street is in terminal decline and gives some hope that it could yet be revived. After all Amazon hasn’t built its global success by backing losing horses, which would suggest that it’s first tentative steps onto the high street are part of a well-researched initiative aimed at further strengthening the business and meeting a consumer requirement.

If Amazon has got its calculations correct (which let’s face it, it usually does) it could be the start of a great revival for the UK high street. This will particularly true if the innovation of Amazon encourages others on the high street to modernise and innovate their approach to retailing, prompting further signs of life for traditional retailers.

Should this play out the giant of 21st century retailing that bought the high street to its knees could just be the one to help bring it back to life. Now that really would be ironic. 

Tagged with: Amazon, B2B PR agency Manchester , Lifestyle, Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR Manchester

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Women’s world cup 2019: How media coverage helped raise the profile of women’s football



Women’s football’s coming home - the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is taking place until the 7th July and England have a real chance of winning the whole thing. Women’s football has never been more popular and there’s been plenty of build-up in the UK media with record viewing figures for the women’s game expected during the tournament.

It’s come a long way from being banned by the FA for 10 years in 1921, but the real rise of women’s football has only happened very recently. As part of my dissertation at university, I looked into the disparity in media coverage of men’s and women’s football to see whether there was a lack of interest or quality or if, with an increase in coverage, the sport would become more popular. This was back when there was very little coverage of the women’s game at all and I was sure that increased exposure would spark more interest in the sport.

In the build up to the 2015 Women’s World Cup, there was limited coverage of the England women’s team and the sports pages in newspapers and online were dominated by Premier League transfers, even though the men’s football season had finished. Women’s football needed to raise awareness of the sport through media coverage in order to get more people interested in it - this is essentially what we do for many of our clients at Refresh PR. Rather than the innovative PR strategies and campaigns that we use to generate media coverage for clients, it was the success of the England Women’s team at the 2015 World Cup that prompted a surge in newspaper, online and TV news coverage in the UK during the competition and got people talking about the game.

As the media coverage of the England women’s team increased throughout the tournament with lead stories on both the BBC and the Guardian websites, the popularity and viewing figures also increased; this prompted the BBC to promote England’s quarter final against Canada from BBC Three to BBC One where it was watched by 2.4 million people. Two years later at the European Championships in the Netherlands, media coverage was ramped up again and the viewing figures for England women’s semi-final against the host nation were in excess of four million.

As we head into the 2019 Women’s World Cup, women’s football is now entering the mainstream and in contrast to the last World Cup, there’s been extensive coverage in the build up to the competition. FIFA says more than 720,000 tickets have been sold and every game will be broadcast live on the BBC. There’s still a long way to go but the fact that six of FIFA’s global sponsors have pledged to spend the same on marketing at the Women’s World Cup as they did at the men’s in Russia, is a sign that popularity of the sport is now higher than ever.

Whilst there are many factors behind the rise of women’s football, there’s no doubt that the increase in press coverage has resulted in more people becoming interested in the sport, helping to demonstrate the power of the media. This is something we’ve witnessed first-hand when working with our clients; whether it’s through an article in a national newspaper or a sustained campaign targeting coverage in key trade magazines, we’ve been able to raise the profile of many of our clients, proving that the media still has an important role to play for both businesses and sports.


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